As a freshman two seasons ago, Cal Quantrill was a breakout star for the Stanford Cardinal. He went 7-5 with a 2.68 ERA. In 110.2 innings of work, he struck out 98, walked just 34, and opposing batters hit just .221 against him.
On a larger scale, his emergence quickly in his first season on The Farm was a huge boon for a Stanford rotation that really would have lacked a standout ace had he not come through like he did. Sure, guys like Brett Hanewich and John Hochstatter were quality starters who got the job done, but Quantrill immediately introduced himself as a frontline starter right up there with anyone else in the Pac-12.
In 2015, it looked like he was well on his way to a worthy encore performance. In his first three starts of the season, he was off to a 2-0 start with a 1.93 ERA. Unfortunately, those three starts were all he would get, as he was shut down for a stint afterward and then underwent Tommy John surgery.
Certainly the difference wasn’t just one guy, but Quantrill’s injury was a contributing factor to the team’s disappointing 24-32 (9-21 in the Pac-12) season in 2015. Hanewich once again stepped up and gave the Cardinal quality starts, but other than his 13 starts, no other Stanford pitcher started more than nine games. And the pitcher who started nine games was Marc Brakeman, who also battled injuries. If you moved past him, the highest start total on the team was six. Simply put, this was a team in dire need of a bell cow at the front of the rotation.
His surgery has done little to damper the excitement over the righty’s status as a prospect. Baseball America has Quantrill ranked as their 14th-best prospect in the country, while D1Baseball.com is even more bullish, with him taking the number 11 spot in their rankings.
Heading into 2016, there is real hope that Quantrill will be back for the Cardinal. When, exactly, he will return and in what capacity remains to be seen and will largely be based on how he feels as the season begins, but just getting him back on the mound will be a welcome development for the program.